From heritage brands to hydration… Oatly’s greatest shareholder unearths the subsequent mega-traits on its radar

Belgium-based Verlinvest is the investment firm of the family at the wait on of brewing monumental Anheuser-Busch InBev. Created over 25 years in the past, in the present day Verlinvest has 28 brands in its portfolio and has in excess of $4bn in funds under administration.

Its most infamous — or more precisely, horrid — trace is Oatly (in the intervening time worth more than $14bn since checklist on the US Nasdaq inventory alternate ultimate month), in which it owned a 55.9% stake internal a joint endeavor sooner than the IPO.

Verlinvest’s head of European food and beverage, Ben Unlit, urged FoodNavigator the neighborhood is taking a see at long-term boost alternatives offered by these traits providing ‘more ethical, sustainable and wholesome that you just would possibly want to perhaps perhaps be in a build to imagine decisions’.

“We imagine these three user shifts will be pervasive,”​ he urged us, including that the investment car’s point of interest is on brands looking out to drive mainstream consumption in direction of more ethical that you just would possibly want to perhaps perhaps be in a build to imagine decisions that help the needs of a brand original generation.

“We’re very focussed on what the user needs, and these three traits and long-term user shifts are crucial for us attributable to we’re in an incredibly difficult timeframe the build the orderly majority of brands that exist in the present day were in-constructed the 20th century for the 20th century user, and that user has diversified needs. What we’re buying for is brands for the 21st century that help the 21st century user. That user is youthful and has a actually diversified expectation of what they desire from brands internal food and beverage.”   

He believes more other individuals must protect inexperienced and ethical products and are ready to pay more for them, and he’s bullish on the prospects for socially-minded entrepreneurs and brands successfully capitalising on and driving these traits.

“I’m massively assured attributable to that’s the build I explore the growth coming from. Producers that comprise these capabilities are rising quicker than the ones that haven’t,”​ he urged us. “What you’re seeing is the bigger FMCG strategics initiating to reorient themselves around these traits as properly.”​ A extremely certain example is Unilever’s commitment to reason-led brands. The FMCG monumental is “an oil tanker of an organisation internal food, however they are transferring your complete industry in direction of this. I’m not buying for the oil tanker, however the rate boat that’s constructed around these values.”

Trend 1: Custom-made diet

The first enlighten the build nimble initiate-united statesare busy making waves considerations personalised diet. “We’re very inquisitive about taking a see at alternatives which abet other individuals understand their distinctiveness and their bear nutritional needs,”​ renowned Unlit. “We’ve not yet considered personalised diet be adopted by the mass market so we’re very angry by brands that can perhaps abet other individuals understand their bear specificities and be guided about what forms of meals they has to be drinking to lead a more healthy life-style.”

Custom-made services and products customarily repeat a elevated ticket for customers. But customers are ready to pay top class the build they in actuality feel added worth, in step with Unlit. “In the occasion that they are getting proper accumulate pleasure in personalised diet, I would in actuality feel assured that they would pay a top class to non-personalised diet.”


Ben Unlit from Verlinvest, the fund looking out extremely scalable alternatives with global seemingly. Producers and solutions providing wholesome, sustainable and ethical that you just would possibly want to perhaps perhaps be in a build to imagine decisions is the build the growth of the future lays, he says.

Trend 2: Plastic-free hydration

In step with Verlinvest, the hydration pattern guarantees to clear up two prescient considerations: the topic of the dramatic rise in the production of throwaway plastics which will be failing to be contained, managed, reused and recycled, and other individuals’s opt to halt wholesome. “We’ve been a actually long-term backer of hydration traits and now we’re seeing a brand original generation of brands coming by who accumulate away plastic. Plastic-free hydration takes away the must shift water around the area that takes away the necessity for single expend plastics,” ​outlined Unlit.

While not in the Verlinvest portfolio, one such trace that falls into this pattern is German initiate-up Air Up, which flavours water the utilization of scented air to trick your mind into perceiving a model, thus providing a candy model with out the sugar. The blueprint contains a reusable water bottle – stuffed with tap water – to which you attach a scent pod that releases flavour into your mouth as you drink. Air Up has already raised an €18m Series A funding round from investors including PepsiCo and French foodtech investor 5 Seasons Ventures.

One other German initiate-up that is hoping to disrupt the flavoured drink sector is Water Fall. This solution affords customers flavoured capsules which they are able to build aside of their water bottle. “Right here’s a terribly thrilling pattern attributable to it helps from a sustainability standpoint however additionally helps from a health standpoint as properly. It enables for more consumption of water,”​ Unlit observed.

GettyImages plastic bottle nito100

Modern expertise guarantees to disrupt the flavoured water class. Image: Getty/nito100

Trend 3: A return to manufacture chain ethics and provenance

Got wisdom says COVID has made other individuals more attentive to the build their food comes from and what they are striking into their bodies. “This has led from our standpoint to a return to interest of other individuals buying local and contemporary and becoming very inquisitive about precisely the build their food comes from,” ​Unlit urged us.

That manner thrilling instances for heritage brands. Opt tomato knowledgeable, and Italy’s greatest trace, Mutti. “We’ve considered a mountainous whisper in the future of Covid in this industry,”​ Unlit printed. “It’s a multi-generational 100-300 and sixty five days trace that has very specific sourcing standards to toughen the typical of their tomatoes. We explore tall tick up in interest in this enlighten as other individuals see to in actuality have in mind that they’re getting a quality and ethically produced product that additionally has appropriate model. That renewed user consciousness of and very certain point of interest on provide chain ethics, provenance and localisation is something that we’re very inquisitive about.”​ 

He added: “We’re seeing an enchantment to these brands that ship indulgence with a level of belief. We’re seeing notably in southern Europe heaps of attention on family-backed brands which were doing the identical order for heaps of years.”​ Spanish tinned sardine producer Ortiz is subsequently one other astronomical example of a class-defining trace. “They are in a build to display conceal a level of belief and expertise that give other individuals license to indulge.” 


Excessive instances for hertitage brands. Image supplied by Mutti

One other example is Tony’s Chocolonely – a Dutch chocolate agency serious about eradicating child labour in the future of the cocoa provide chain. This thought is ‘phenomenally difficult’, Unlit believes, “attributable to the 21st century user is asking ‘are we doing the swish order in how we employ our money?’ and Tony’s affords a formula to an argument that exists from the style that the 20th century cocoa provide chain has been constructed.”

The trace has additionally been “a blinding success myth”,​ he added. “We invested in them about 18 months in the past. The trace in the enlighten of a pair of years has change into a actually noteworthy chocolate trace in the Netherlands. We comprise passed by a assignment love we fabricate with many of our brands of internationalisation. We’ve launched the emblem in the UK, US and Germany and here is driving extra special boost.”​ Tony’s is now not astray to be “properly over a euro 100 million trace this 300 and sixty five days, rising around 30%”.

Tony's Chocolonely Ghana bar

Tony’s Chocolonley has proved a excellent success myth. But fabricate brands espousing elevated ethical standards build aside a purpose on their backs?

Challenges for brands ‘with reason’

Tony’s Chocolonely has not been immune from criticism, nevertheless. As an illustration, it became as soon as removed earlier this 300 and sixty five days from a checklist of ethical chocolate corporations for its ties with Barry Callebaut​, which has admitted that its bear provide chain will not be slavery-free.

Sustainability-minded Oat milk pioneer Oatly — Verlinvest’s greatest success myth over its 25-300 and sixty five days history – has additionally confronted a backlash for having Blackstone (the area’s greatest non-public equity agency accused of getting links to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest) among its backers.

These instances beg the inquire: fabricate these corporations that accumulate the very ideally suited valid ground risk having the furthest to descend?

In step with Unlit, it’s neither practical nor beneficial to inquire challenger brands to steer clear of working with ‘otherwise minded’ companions as they scale up and enter the mainstream.

“In the ruin the brands that we’re partnering with comprise a actually certain working out of how they comprise to shape the area and ignoring or not taking part with companions which will be in a build to abet them fabricate that mission in our eye will not be the swish contrivance of rising alternate,”​ he said. “So for Oatly, their ultimate purpose is to kind a trace that affords a sustainable different to dairy on a world scale. That has to be the #1 mission. In the same style, with Tony’s: their mission is to fabricate chocolate 100% slave free. By refusing to opt with others, we omit a possibility to educate them in our practices and ways of getting affect, and importantly a possibility to kind the alternate that is in the end the mission of our industry.”

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